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Pages for individuals, for places, and for surnames/dynasties have different formats. Our clever "extension" software enhances them in different ways because of their different types of content.

Places, surnames, dynasties

Page for individual

If you can't see an "Edit with form" link above a person article, the page probably uses an old template or no standard template. You will probably save us all time in the long run by upgrading it to the current system. See Forum:Converting a non-form page to an "Edit with form" page. It should take less than a minute, though some rearranging and duplicate-deletion may be desirable and take longer.

Starting new page

The best way (involving the most display for the least work) is to use Form:Person, which automatically creates an article from the details you type or paste into boxes. Please see Help:Articles/start unless you're familiar with that page.

Please select the page name format in accordance with our conventions, i.e. normally have the full birth name followed by a space then birth and/or death year in parentheses, e.g. Mary Ann Hall (1891-), with a space before the "(" but no spaces inside. Do not use "?" to indicate unknowns anywhere in a person-page name.

The essential facts for the first version are given name, surname, and short name (any of which can be changed later), preferably with the inclusion of at least one child. Then don't bother with a preview but just Publish the page.

For a manual method with similar results, see Forum:Data entry without using Form:Person.

Tree and descendant subpages

As soon as you have checked the first edition of a new page, your very next procedures could add more displays quickly, as follows:

  1. Click on "Edit with form" then on "Update/Create Sensor page". Please check the "Minor edit" box, then click "Publish". That produces a generally invisible but important data-capture page.
  2. Then you should see some buttons for creating other subpages, the most impressive of which is usually the "tree". Click the button that gets you to a "tree" page. It also needs just a click on "Publish" after "Minor edit".
  3. Descendants will list on a similarly-created page - not worth creating unless the individual had at least one grandchild.

After creating those subpages, you need to republish the sensor page then probably the main page to see the tabs that point to the subpages. The tree and descendant pages will show tabs once they are republished; that also updates them if other individuals' pages have been created since.


After laying out the basic article, you may improve it in either of two ways:

  • using the menu item "edit this page" to add pictures and narrative using an easy to use visual editor
  • to change details in the tables and maybe add more tables and useful subpages, click the "Edit facts" link at the bottom of the main infobox or use the "Edit with form" menu item to correct things or add children or add other data omitted when you or someone else began the article. You may see an option "Create tab: Ancestor tree": two clicks will have that created, and it's a good task to complete early.

For all edits after the initial creation, it is preferable to click "Preview" before clicking "Publish". You won't see all of the finished article but you will guard against an edit conflict in case someone else edited while you had the edit screen open.


Localities, counties, states, etc - please don't include any square brackets or curly brackets anywhere in the name except in the sources or notes sections or the free text area at the bottom. Placenames usually show as links if you use the Familypedia name, which is nearly always the Wikipedia name. For the USA, add State name to locality, borough, county, or parish (e.g. Greene County, Ohio) to turn them into links. For Britain and Ireland, the county name is usually enough on its own (e.g. Greater London, Devon, Cambridgeshire, County Durham, or County Down) but localities may need something bigger added. In all cases, the full Wikipedia name is best and is likely to work if anything does. "Autocomplete" will often save you much typing time for common place names.

Baptism, 2nd wedding, burial

These start life hidden; click "Show" in the "Other information" section of the form.

Three or more partners

If the person had more than two partners, you will need to edit without the form so as to add appropriate lines adapted from numbers "1" and "2".

Child not from first-listed partner

If you want to create a new page as above by clicking on a parent link in an infobox, and you know that that child was not the child of the parent's first-listed partner, you will need to do a little fiddling to switch partners and/or children, needing a second edit without the form. Editing should show you the coding, where "g1" (referring to the first listed spouse or partner and any children from that union) will need to be changed to "g2" or a later number.


Siblings should show on an individual's page automatically if the father has his own page listing children. See Help:Siblings for less common situations. You can list siblings manually below the heading, giving them more detail than the standard template shows.

Going straight to the "Advanced" form

Until we fix some of the recent software problems, you may get an error message if you hit "Advanced form": solution may be to go up to the URL and change "/person/" to "/person advanced/" then hit an "Enter" key.

Maybe don't "Edit with form" again

The forms software places and replaces some standard templates at the top and some at the bottom, leaving other templates and text in their original order in between. If you put something like "{{Living}}" or "{{Verify}}" at the top of the page, it may move down after another "Edit with form".

Instead of "Edit with form", to edit most of the page again you may use the "Edit facts" link in the infobox, which leaves alone everything that is not part of the standard templates. Child info has to be done separately anyway if you want to use a form after the initial page-creation, but it too can be edited manually as part of the article using ordinary "Edit".

What if I want to change the layout?

The most important articles on this site describe the family history of a given person. Different genealogists have different needs when it comes to writing person articles. Some wish to include only the most basic information. Others need a more complex presentation. Some users have highly specific, and perhaps unique, requirements.

The input forms at Form:Person and Form:Person advanced use templates designed to meet a very wide range of requirements, achieving all the linkages genealogists expect, including most of the fields that would be in a GEDCOM file. Boxes that you leave blank will generally show nothing (not even a heading) on the page. You may move these templates around on the page. You may even delete them if you wish, but that may make more work for you or a relative later, with little or no benefit. (The directly-edited page code ("free text") appears in a box near the "Publish" button at the bottom. Don't mess with things inside curly brackets!) Also, if you have specialized requirements, you are welcome to create a template of your own to incorporate them. If you need help with that, place a message on Forum:Help desk, and there will probably be someone reading that who can help you. New templates like that should be listed at Forum:Templates update so that anyone can benefit from them.

Naming conventions

Individuals' page names follow a standard (for ease of manipulation by templates and to minimize duplication), usually of the form:

Person's full name at birth (BirthYear-DeathYear)


John Isaac Smith (1900-1985)

Please use "c" right up against the year if it is approximate or estimated or even the best guess. If showing nothing for birth year or for death year, leave no space between the hyphen and the parenthesis, Examples: (c1100-1165), (-c1876).

For further details on conventions for articles with non-Latin fonts or in other languages, see "Page names".


After creating a person article using one of the forms, you may at any time select the "Edit with form" menu item, to add details anywhere, or you may use the "Edit" item to change details and/or fill out your article with a narrative on the individual. The two main infoboxes have "Edit facts" or "Edit child facts" links for the easiest access to changing or adding details of the person's basic facts or the tables of children or siblings.

You may use the rich text facility to add pictures, headings and tables to the article without using special codes. Try it - you will be surprised how easy it is to create an attractive and memorable article on your ancestor.

Be bold

There is no harm in trying out anything on an article (but please don't edit a template directly because that could mess up 30,000 articles).

Page name error or other change

If you make an error in naming the article, please use the "Rename" button from the Edit menu to rename it. Takes about 5 seconds unless your change is substantial. Do not start a new page instead; that's always slower and it loses information.


If you see less than you expect to see, the page may need to be published again because some templates need two "saves" to be fully effective. If things still look wrong and you think you may have made a mistake, you can go to the page "History" to get an idea of what was added or subtracted from one version to the next, and either open the last version that you think was all right or use "Undo" on the very last version listed at the top. Or seek help from someone else before doing anything else to that page.

After you "Publish" the article and the "sensor" page once or twice more, things should be coming right, appearing where you expect them to. If still no good, post a query on the help desk or check its recent postings to see if anyone else has had similar problems. A software glitch could be at fault.

Feel free to ask for help at any time. You can click on the user names in the "latest activity" or "Recent changes" and ask someone recently active for assistance by leaving a message on their talk (discussion) page. Or you may leave an inquiry at our help desk. Help is likely to come within 24 hours.

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